Forged by Fire

 I wear a wedding ring, like most married men do. Something is different about mine though. It was actually my Sr Ring from high school. See this Sr Ring was 24K gold and was just beautiful. It had a jasper stone in the middle, and on the side of it was a cross with a sun shinning behind it saying, “New Beginning”.  It was a very nice ring, BUT I graduated. After graduation, would I ever wear it again? What would I do with it? Well, when my wife and I decided to get married there was only one option, to melt it down, have it reshaped and formed to no longer symbolize my graduation and school, but a new life with my wife. A journey that will last “Till death do we part.”
Yes, that which was mine, this ring I chose and designed with all the details, now would be refashioned to be mine again anew; to serve a bigger Role in my life. A new design to represent a new meaning.
Isn’t that like our lives?  We start off as this creation, fashioned by the world around us, Parents, Teachers, Friends, Family and Movies. We bare the image of those who have influenced us, wither good or bad. But now, the Master Craftsman of All Creation chooses us. He calls us His own. Not only calling us, He purchased us; Bought us with the Blood of His own Son.  (Gal 3:13) . The Master has purchased the gold. Yet, That is not enough though. Now the one who purchased us, wants to recreate us into His own creation, to shape and form into that which will show forth His Glory, His Craftsmanship; so that we can bare the Image of Eternity now. A New Beginning, not the shape of the world around us.  
“For if any person be in Christ he is a New Creation.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
 “We are his Workmanship, Masterpiece, created for good works.” Ephesians 2:10
“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:7
    Here in lies the problem… How does that which already has a shape, become something new?
How do we who bare the form and fashion of the world around us, our environment, now bare the image and fashion of that which is Holy?  We turn to the metalworker. “The craftsman encourages the metalworker; the one who flattens with the hammer, the one who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, “It is good..” Isaiah 41:7

   We have to be reformed. The metal worker puts the gold into the furnace to melt it. It is under great heat that the purest metal comes out. It is from this purification that comes the purest gold. Once it is purified it is by no means finished. Now Master Craftsman forges it in to the shape of his delight. He hammers it, beats it into shape. He cuts out the extras, removing all that is not of necessity. “For God is at work both to Will and to Work for his Pleasure.”
   In our lives this comes out as our pain. Our Struggle. This is us, dying to ourselves and allowing the Master to Create something New. “We are a New Creation.”  This is a New Beginning.  “We are His Workmanship” .. “Whom I formed and Made”
The whole process of making a Masterpiece, a New Creation, takes focus, dedication, and purpose. For the master doesn’t not just throw the gold into the fire and hope the creation will walk out as he imagined. No, He has to work the gold. Mold it. Forge it. He has to watch over it. He has to engrave his likeness on it.  He inspects it. And if it is not up to his standards does he just throw it away, cast it aside?  No, He just reshapes and works out the imperfections for “He who began the good work will Perfect it.” Philippians 1:6
    When the ring is finished, we love the sparkle of the diamond, the light reflecting off of the cuts and angles, but it’s the cutting away from our lives that hurt. We love color of gold, but we despise the fires that purify it. We want the beauty, but we don’t want the shaping or forging, it’s too uncomfortable.

Where is Home?

 Sitting here today chatting with some friends on Facebook; some are in Greece, and some are in Turkey. Me?  I am in Decatur, TX.  I have called this place home for the last 30 years. The house I’m currently in has been our home for the last 16 years.
Last year I left a job that I called home for over 5 years. The people there I called Family. Now, I call my Church my home, and the people I serve with Family. I love this Family.. I love my Church. But I don’t feel at home in Decatur anymore. I am surrounded by types and shadows of what was. Faded memories of what use to be. Feelings of the comfort are now gone, and I’m left with one thought…Where is home?  Is it where you sleep? Where you dwell? Or is where your heart is?
Where is my heart? It feels lost… Alone.. On a road that goes on, looking like it never ends, nothing is in Sight. Just Miles of pavement. This Road is Narrow. It leaves a lot stranded. You can’t take it all with you. For me? My Job, gone. My Church, New. My friends have all changed. My direction, a new. Yet, It’s not a new road. It’s been traveled before. (You may be on this road yourself.) There are signs of those that have traveled it before. Markers if you will, testifying of those who have gone ahead.  King David wrote of one in Psalms 137: 1-4 ” By the Rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion. There on the willow we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of Joy, they said, ‘Sing us the songs of Zion.’  But how can we sing the Lords song in a Foreign land.
    This Foreign Land.. We may sleep there. We may dwell there. Our families may even be there with us. We may even be bound to stay there. But if our hearts aren’t there, our harps are just hanging on a willow. The world around us is singing their song, and they are wanting us to join in with them. But the songs that are on our heart will fall on their deaf ears. Songs that remind us of who we were meant to be. Songs that remind us of what we were made for. Songs that remind us, we aren’t home yet.
Rich Mullins, song writer of Awesome God and many others, (was also a Missionary to the Navajos) last phone call to his mother before he died said, “Nothing seems familiar to me. I feel lost.” in which she replied, “Come Home.”  Rich said, “that brings up a really good question, “Where is Home? Is it with you? Is it back on the Reservation? I don’t get to see my best friend anymore… Nothing around me is familiar. Everything has changed.”    Yes, this road is well traversed. It’s watered with the tears of those who have gone before us. Those whom the world was not worthy of, The Saints of Old as Hebrews tells us. “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them from a distance and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the Earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own… A Better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God and He has prepared a City for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16.
Where is Home??  I’m not there. But, I choose to live as a stranger and exile here on earth. I choose to dwell with those less fortunate. I will sing the songs of Zion with those who have ears to hear. I will seek a better country, a Heavenly one.

Starry Night

I find myself so often, just having so much to express with no way to get it out. Writing, I feel, falls short, because I can’t express with my body the passion I feel.  You see, I’m not really a writer or an artist that can capture a moment in time, space, or thought. What I am is a Letter to be read; a vessel to be used to carry the Water of Life to a Dry and Thirsty people. “A Voice of one crying out in the Wilderness.”  Like an Artist though, I am trying to get people’s attention to what compels me. To express that which is written on my heart. But so often, I’m wonder if anyone is reading me? Are they seeing what I am pointing to? Are they able to drink from the well I’m offering them?
There was a famous Missionary, famous not for his work for God, but for his ability to paint what he saw with the eyes of God. His struggle was not with God, but his ability express the Un-expressible, and get people to see God. What people saw was him, not what he was showing. People Judged him harshly, offering only silence and abandonment. He struggled with getting people to see, feel, and experience what captured his heart.  He wrote to his brother, “There may be a great Fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke coming through the chimney and go along their way.”

Don McClean would write a song about this Missionary and named it after one of the Missionary’s most famous Paintings. Starry Night

Starry, starry night 
Paint your palette blue and gray 
Look out on a summer’s day 
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul 
Shadows on the hills 
Sketch the trees and the daffodils….
Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they’ll listen now.”

Vincent Van Gogh wanted to show the beauty of the world he saw thru the eyes of Christ, but no one was listening. No one was looking. Sometimes the most painful things felt  is not with our flesh but our spirit. The pain that comes from the depth of the soul when we try to express that which is unexpressible, and no one is stopping to look at the fire that is kindled in the chimney of our soul.  Oh they may see the smoke and wonder, but never do they come in and warm themselves by the fire of our souls, nor do they feed the flame.
Jeremiah the prophet said in Chapter 20:9  “But if I say I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning Fire, Shut up in my bones, and I’m weary of holding it in. And I can not endure it.” Jeremiah is screaming but no one is really listening. Those that are, just ridiculing him and beating him. He goes on to say in verses 14 & 15, “cursed be the day when I was born, Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! Cursed be the man that brought my father news ‘a baby boy has been born to you!'”  Like wise, Van Gogh’s last words to his Brother as he died, “This Pain will not end.”
Yes,  Like them, I have a flame in my soul, a fire in my heart, a message for the people, but who is listening?  For so long I have felt the words of Don McLean.,

And how you suffered for your sanity 
And how you tried to set them free 
They would not listen, they’re not listening still 
Perhaps they never will”

So, I look at people, particularly youth, they all have a talent, a gift, a message, something to offer to those around them, but no one is paying attention.  We pass judgement on them, because they are not like us. We cast our words at them like stones.  And all along, How many are suffering for their Sanity?  Are we seeing the smoke from their chimneys?  Are we listening to their stories told? Or will it be like Van Gogh, and so many others, that it’s not until they are gone from us that we realized what they had to offer.
May the Lord give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive what is being shown thru the windows of the souls around us. May the fire of our hearts be stoked with the visits of those who need to be warmed and feed.

Starry Starry Night.. Perhaps now we will.

 

 

 

Eye has not Seen

In the book , To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says,”You’ll never understand a man ’til you stand in his shoes and look at the world through his eyes.” So true, don’t you think? Each of us have an eye for certain things: Color, art, birds, cars, dogs, cats, decorating, ect.. But do we have the eyes to see those around us as Christ sees them?  I think we walk around with our eyes on so many things we fail to see that which is most beautiful around us, the souls of others. This world captivates us from the beginning with flashy, showy objects. Loud and beautiful pictures of things “We Need, ” “We Want,” or “We deserve.”  We are taught to focus on something for just a short time. 20 second commercials, 10 minute dialogues, and that fleeting by-pass slap in the face to our fellow beings, “Hi, How are you?” Never meaning to get beyond that.
Mark 8:18  Jesus quotes Jeremiah ” Hear this you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.”  Everyone, almost everywhere has heard the saying,”The eyes are the window to the  Soul.” But we ever really stop and look into that window. We don’t open our shades to let the light come in. We draw the blinds down, pull the shades over and close the Windows to our souls. In doing so, we judge those around us as being callous and uncaring, because they fail to see that which is inside of us. We want people to see our souls, feel our pain, and walk in our shoes, and when  they don’t we just judge them as uncaring, but lets reverse this Order. Let’s open up our Windows for people to see our souls, by seeing thru them first. We have Eyes to See, but we aren’t looking at the right thing. We have ears to hear but we aren’t listening to God. The thoughts of our own survival and screams from our own pain drown out those around us.  That’s why Paul wrote,” I pray that the eyes of your understanding be enlightened that you may know.” Ephesians 1:18
I’m here to say, yes “we will never understand a man until we walk in his shoes and see the world thru his eyes.”  It’s not about people seeing thru your eyes as much as you should be looking into theirs. Lets change our vision. Let’s blink, rub the sleep out and focus. Let us see thru GOD’s Eyes, walk in His Shoes…”For the eyes of the Lord move about the Earth Seeking.” “As you have received the Christ, so Walk in Him.” Colossians 2:6  ..” “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ..did not consider Himself.”   So, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, see thru His Eyes, and having His mind,  we will walk as He walked “MOVED with Compassion,” never asking for any, but always giving, seeing the Beauty of the Souls around Him.
What are you seeing? Do you hear their Cries? Have you tasted the Salt in the Tears they Cry?
“Eye Has not Seen.” Isaiah 64:4

The Voice of One Crying out in the Wilderness

 Reading today various devotionals while the weather is somewhat dreary. Mist, along with some rain  coming in later, and me wanting the spirit to cover me as the mist does the ground. Not running off, eroding  the soil and landscape, but soaking deep into the soil or my Soul causing something to flourish. But  What?

One devotion started off with Mark 1. Jesus gets baptized by John the Baptist and it says, “And a voice came from Heaven saying “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased. The Spirit immediately drove him out in to the wilderness.” WOW.. A voice From Heaven! How great is that???  Man, you would think this is the all in all here, but God had other things in store. More! Lives were needing to be Touched. So, in God’s plan for all of Mankind he sends Jesus to the Wilderness. Alone. Isolated. Almost Forsaken. No comforting words. No more Voices from Heaven. Only the  voice of reasoning. The Voice of Doubt. The Voice of Despair. . The Voice of SATAN. Tempting, setting doubts. Stirring Fears. The Son, with the deceiver. This is the story of Man. This is the Story of Redemption.
It is this time alone that God prepares the Heart and Soul of those whom He uses. “Immediately” not a few years later. You have that wonderful God Moment, heaven opens up and you feel the glory of the Lord all about you. Your Friends and loved ones are close, God is speaking, and then something happens. You don’t know what you did; where you turned left, but your alone. God isn’t speaking like He was. No one is comforting you. It seems the only one speaking to you know is the Devil, tempting, discouraging, and blaming you about everything. It is this time that tries our souls. It is here we must “hold fast to the faith without wavering, for He who promised is Faithful.”  It is this time that we are learning to Lean on Jesus. It is only when we are weak that we will ever lean, so our strength must be taken. Our hope in everything is shaken that all that remains is “hope in God”. Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor to our soul, secure and firm.” All other things are shifting sand but upon this Rock He will build. So the sands shift beneath our feet. What was once our sand castle has been removed and all that is left are His Promises. “All things work for good to them that Love God and are Called according to His purpose.” “God is at work both to will and to do for His good Pleasure.” “Do not Fear nor be afraid for I am with you.”

It is when we come out of the Desert that we can proclaim the good news. It is then we have something to share that will speak to the hearts and souls of those in need.